Wednesday, 25 March 2015

What happens when Daddy does home ed?

Today was clearing out the basement day. I loaded the trailer ready for a summer of camping fun, threw loads of boxes away that we've hoarded since we moved and generally just started to tidy up a space that's rarely entered. 

So I left DadaSmu to educate the children. Here's what happened. 

Firstly they watched this YouTube video:

They then started work - on the dining room table! 

They all did a magnificent job, learning and using important skills. The end result is four of these. 

I will admit that they are rather magnificent. So as well as measuring, sawing and safety skills, they also went on to use combat, ambush and strategy skills. They worked out that the perfect angle for firing their darts the furthest distance was 20 degrees. They also learned that shooting Mummy or the baby is never a good idea! They built forts with arrow slits and low walls with escape routes. All in all, I think a lot of fun was had by all those involved. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The things no one tells you when you're planning a big family

So, being the mother of 5 amazingly beautiful children has to be the most fulfilling path that my life has taken me down. Every time I hear a laugh or a song or a prayer from one of my children, my heart just fills with a little more light. 

While I by no means have a large family in relation to some, I definitely have a few more than the average 1.8 children that married couples have in the UK. However, there are still some things that surprise me and I thought I'd share some of the things that no one tells you about when you're planning a larger family. (Please feel free to add any of your own in the comments)

- I have to cut (including my own but not DadaSmu's) 120 fingernails and toenails approximately every      3-4 weeks

- All the above fingernails and toenails very annoyingly grow at different rates so it's not a simple case of getting the job done in one go, it's actually and endless tast

- There are a LOT of duvets, pillow cases and sheets on bed change days

- Remembering which toothbrush belongs to which child is quite a task

- When the washing is put away, they generally have to spend some time putting the right pants and t-shirts in the right wardrobes. It doesn't help that apart from the oldest, everyone else is pretty much wearing clothes that someone has worn before

- Finding shoes is a nightmare - there is ALWAYS at least one shoe from each person missing. I don't understand this as they take two off, so it stands to reason that there should be two to put back on again

- Socks - enough said!

- Sometimes, all five children will call me at the precise same moment. I generally hide in a cupboard so that I don't have to pick my favourite (also known as easiest to deal with)

- Remembering names is actually impossible. I know in my head which one I'm referring to, but 99.9% of the time I'll get the wrong name

- They also get all the names mixed up - it's not purely an age thing. I'm quite often called Daddy or Granny

- I do actually have a favourite child - that's right! You read that correctly, I have a favourite child. It's always the one who is standing in front of me at any given moment and I tell them so - they love it! 

- There are substantially less photos of the last three than the first two!

- Meal times are not a time for relaxing conversation. They're a time for all 7 of us to compete with each other and try to say the most and be heard the least

- When I get 5 hugs and kisses and hear 5 beautifully simple prayers at the end of each day, I realise that it's all been worth it. That my ear drums are in fact still in tact after the dinner time mayhem, and that tomorrow we'll love and laugh and cut some more nails all over again. 

Monday, 16 March 2015

Spaghetti writing

The children were up nice and early this morning (it happens at the change into spring and autumn I find) and by 9.30 had completed all their set work. So, we boiled up some spaghetti and did some spaghetti writing. It was great fun. Some of them wrote their names, George 3 just did random letters. George 4 photo bombed! 
Later on we did PE along a coastal walk. Lots of climbing, running, balancing, swinging and some spelling and times tables just for fun. 

Monday, 2 March 2015

The adventures we have!

We're still getting used to the vast array of incredible places to visit along the Dorset coastline. We're out and about a lot, finding little gems of beauty. Today we joined in a home ed group, fossil hunting in Charmouth. 

We set off from home in glorious sunshine. It wasn't even especially cold. About 30 mins into our journey, the clouds came over and it snowed! I couldn't believe it. If someone had told me in fact, I may not have believed them. By the time we reached Charmouth another 20 mins or so later, it was fabulous blue sky and sunshine again. 

There had been a recent landslide and so the rocks were exposed and the formations were just stunning. 
The layers of different rocks were visible and striking and definitely requires a revisit. 
Georgiana enjoyed splashing in the streams that were running from the rock faces to the sea. 
The boys climbed one of the more stable cliffs to search for fossils and they were having a great time getting filthy and muddy. 

Until George 3 got his boots stuck! George 1 went back to rescue them, George 2 followed. The boots were recovered, however George 2 went right ahead and lost his. Simultaneously, the sky went black and the heavens poured hail upon us! We left the boots to become an archaeological find in a few million years and retreated to the car to dry and thaw. 
There was a lot of mud and tears but once we'd sufficiently recovered, we decided that it was the most exciting adventure yet. 

I feel sure we'll return to Charmouth, but we'll try and judge the weather a little better next time! 

Home education styles

There are a number of education styles that fit specifically with home education. I've always said that there are as many styles of home education as there are children being home educated styles of education vary even within individual families as the needs of each child are met. It's so diverse and changing that I have rarely found a home educator who can truly define their style. 

The main styles of home education are as follows:

This is what most people who don't home educate imagine a home to look like. It's as close to school as anyone can imagine. Often families use purchased curriculum materials to follow this approach as it makes like much easier although there is so much online now, that with time and effort, most materials can be sourced relatively cheaply or even for free. Timetables are develpoed, work is balanced and often curriculum based, sometimes with externally marked assignments. Sometimes tutors are used to help assist with learning certain subjects. It's often the style that's reported in newspapers and installs fear into lots of parents as they imagine the rigour of just getting a piece of homework done. 

Tthis is often seen as the opposite of structure. This system relies on following the interests of individual children. There are rarely structured learning times, it's flexible and adaptable to the needs of everyone in the family. There is little about this system that can be associated with the way schools work, hence the American term of Unschooling.  To people who don't understand it, it can be seen as lazy or not doing anything much at all. Often there is no paper trail to speak of. Either paper based work is not done, or not kept. It can be distrusted and heavily criticised as it's so far outside the norm. 

Semi Structured
As you can probably imagine, this is a bit of middle ground. There's some structure involved in the day, parents encourage children to do some things that they feel are important whilst trying to encourage some autonomy with regards to topics covered. It is where lots of home educators place themselves in regards to the provision for their children. 

So, where are we? I think we've been all of them at some point or another. I like to think of our home education like a tidal flow. It comes and it goes. Sometimes it suits us to just trust the children and let it flow, sometimes I like to encourage the development of certain skills, sometimes I simply just insist that certain things are done.  

Right now, I'd class myself as a structured Unschooler. Not something you might imagine given the descriptions above and not really semi structured as we're not half imposed structure and the other half autonomous. Yet, I class myself as that because the children themselves have requested the structure and routine. They want to learn and develop new skills. They're happy knowing that their tray of work with individualised tasks are waiting for them in the morning. They're seeing their own progress  and as I get better at it, the tasks are becoming more varied and interesting. I'm loving it too. I feel like we're all in control and that we're all starting to reach for our potential.